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First surfers in Hawaii. One of the first known photos of a surfer with his board. 1890. Black & White Photo. Postcard.

First surfers in Hawaii. One of the first known photos of a surfer

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Photo from the book Surfing: A History of the Ancient Hawaiian Sport, by Ben Finney.

The following information is NOT printed on this postcard:

For centuries surfing was a central part of ancient Polynesian culture. Surfing might have been observed first at Tahiti in Spring 1767 by Samuel Wallis and the crew members of the Dolphin.

When Mark Twain visited Hawaii in 1866 he wrote,

"In one place we came upon a large company of naked natives, of both sexes and all ages, amusing themselves with the national pastime of surf-bathing."

References to surf riding on planks and single canoe hulls are also verified for pre-contact Samoa, where surfing was called fa'ase'e or se'egalu and Tonga.


Of course, it is much more recent that the term "surfing" has been used to refer to looking at various sites on the world wide web.

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